|Philippine Monkey Eagle|
Recently, conservationists in the Philippines expressed major concern and distress over the future of the archipelago's near-extinct monkey eagles after several maimed and diseased birds were taken from captivity in recent months. According to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, it had rescued four birds since last December. These eagles are some of the largest raptors in the world, and yet conservation laws have not protected them from being poached. The foundation further added that the retrieved birds, which were all recovered from Mindanao, included a female missing two toes on one foot when she was rescued in December. In January, the government handed over a year-old male eagle to the foundation. This month, the foundation received a year-old bird with just two remaining feathers on its right wing. Tragically, at the same time, a juvenile bird died from fungal infection. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that there are 180-500 of these eagles in the islands of Mindanao, Luzon, Leyte, and Samar. Majority of their threats consist of poaching and habitat loss.
I'm extremely shocked at the numbers of eagles rescued during the recent months. Many were mutilated and diseased, which indicated that they are still vulnerable to the threat of poaching. According to this article, it is believed that the captive breeding program in saving these magnificent birds has failed so far. Among the examples included when an eagle was electrocuted on a transmission line nine months after it was released into the wild in 2004. In 2008, a captive-bred eagle was killed by a poacher four months after its release. I have a feeling that the program in saving these eagles is in a great need of help. The reason is because this bird is the national bird of the Philippines. It is also an apex predator in archipelago's rainforest ecosystems, keeping the monkey population in check. Without the eagle, the number of monkeys would increase dramatically leading to intense competition for space, food, etc. In turn, the ecosystems' would be turned upside-down. This is why I feel that these eagles must be protected with strict vigilance, and one way is by having the villagers collaborate with the authorities. That is, reporting any suspicious or illegal activity in the jungles. This way, the birds will be able to flourish. Also, there should be efforts to help establish habitats for these birds before releasing them from captivity; habitats without any obstacles like transmission lines.
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